Recently my 10 year old daughter shared with me her struggles with friends as a 5th grade girl. We all know girls can be very mean and we have all walked that walked through 5th grade and middle school girl issues. Its tough – it was then and it is even more so now with technology and social media. Fast forward a few days after that conversation to this past Friday night. Our conversation was heavy on my heart. My oldest daughter and I had tickets to go see Taylor Swift (it was a Christmas present from the year before) and it hit me – Maddie needs to come and hang with Me and her sister – have a little “big girl” time. Maybe that would do her some good. So I jumped through hoops getting her a ticket and we were off to Houston.
My whole intention was just for Maddie to come to the concert, hang out with us and hopefully let loose a little. (Maddie is quite a serious soul and is very self conscience in some respects – so acting silly and letting loose isn’t the norm for her). What I didn’t know was that this outing was more than just getting to see a concert.
This was Maddie’s first concert experience ever – and what better artist to see than Taylor Swift who is so humble and real. Mid way through the concert Taylor takes a few moments to talk about why she wrote the album/song Reputation. In her speech she talks about the mean girls trying to discredit and ruin your reputation and how staying true to yourself is the path to happiness – not that the road would be easy but so worth it when we focus on being a good person and connecting with people in an authentic way. Then she played “Shake it off”. I saw the look in Maddie’s face when Taylor was talking – like she got it – and then pure childlike joy when we all danced and sang along to the song. I knew in that moment that this experience was bigger than me – that GOD was working all things to the good. Her older sister being there and being an example that its ok to have fun and let loose certainly helped Maddie feel comfortable in doing so. The relationship with the bigs are so important to my littles, beyond just being siblings – they are true role models.
The drive home was just as meaningful when we got to chat the entire car ride home about everything from school, to soccer … family to her birthday party. Taking the opportunity to impart a little momma wisdom upon her. I find that I am sharing the same momma wisdom I did and still do with my bigs. Guiding principles, morals and values are timeless.
SO my friends here’s a bit of my wisdom for this post…… its the small moments that sometimes we miss that we must pay attention to and capitalize on…. the moments where people are moved and impacted the most by a conversation, by someone listening to them or just treating them like they matter. The moments that seem like its one thing (like just a concert) when in actuality its something bigger that’s happening – its moments that touch your soul. @taylorswift
School is back in session and summer has ended as have my summer travels. Ahhh summer….. it was sweet this year. I cannot think of a summer in my entire life where I had as much fun and covered as much ground as I did. From May until August I have had maybe 2 weekends that I actually spent in my home – otherwise I was on the GO. And it felt good to go. It felt good to have the freedom to make my own decisions about where to go, when to go and how long to go for. My travels were purposeful trips meant to see my dearest friends, my children, trips for work, family vacation, birthday celebration trips and mixed in all that travel was MANY weekend trips to my camp with lots of river fun.
I saw the most amazing Cirque de Solei show in Vegas, at the Wynn, hiked Mary Jane Falls and spent some face to face time with one of my besties. Boated on the Ouchita Lake in Arkansas, road horses, mined for Diamonds and had the funnest time playing Family Feud with my Bigs and Littles. I explored historic Savannah and Tybee Island and reconnected with one of my favorite places – The Riverwalk in San Antonio. I laughed til I almost cried at an Improv club in St. Louis as well as spent some much needed one on one time with my son and even got to meet his Girlfriends beautiful family. Jetted over to Nashville for the Kenny Chesney Concert and a little downtown Nashville weekend fun and rounded out my travels with an amazing adventure to Santorini Greece with my oldest daughter. We hiked, boated, beached it and enjoyed beautiful scenery and amazing food. What a whirlwind of a summer. Mixed into all my actual travels were weekday dinners in Houston with my Daughter, who was interning there for the summer, and loads of river time on the boat with my many wonderful friends.
After all that travel the most profound thing I have to say is…. I am tired. Yes tired. I am glad I did it and have wonderful memories but I was ready for a little slower pace for the fall. I have one more trip in October to round out the year – a cruise up the east coast.
Travel has always been a passion of mine. The adventure of new sights, trying new things has forever called my name and will continue to do so. I am grateful that I have children who have the same adventurous spirit and friends that do too. 2019’s travel line up will take me to some amazing places with a pretty amazing travel companion too! #excitedaboutthefuture
So as if I haven’t already bared my soul enough, here is a little more insight of what I struggle with. My heart has been so heavy since my marriage ended when I think about my 2 youngest daughters – adopted from China. Those precious babies that I am so blessed to have in my life but yet I have felt that I did them such a disservice adopting them and bringing them into our family. With the chaos of the divorce my mind has told me that inevitably there was another beautiful family standing in line behind us that would have gladly adopted them and provided them a beautiful life with an INTACT family. Its guilt talking as I feel terrible that they are now thrust into the complicated land of divorced children, dealing with issues I wanted to save them from. Its something I never wanted for them.
BUT! there is always a but in my stories…..
I recently read a book about adoption called Chosen for Greatness. It highlighted prominent people from history that were adopted such as Steve Jobs, Nancy Reagan, Nelson Mandela, Scott Hamilton, Dave Thomas and the list continues. All of these people accomplished great things in their lives. The book highlights their accomplishments and the stories of their adoptions. One thing they all have in common though is that they didn’t have this shiny story of being a baby adopted at birth and going home to the “Beaver Cleaver” Household where everything was rainbows and unicorns until the time that they accomplished great things. That was not the resounding theme of their life stories. It was quite the opposite. It was through the beautiful trauma of adoption that they found strength and the tenacity to succeed. The people that GOD so eloquently positioned in their lives at different times – and not just their adoptive parents. Friends, other families members, mentors, teachers, coaches, etc that shaped who they were and opened the doors of possibilities of who they each would become.
What does this have to do with my story – my girls? Well, it changed my thinking. I always knew that GOD did not place my girls in my life by chance. The sadness I felt because what I wanted to give them was destroyed by Divorce washed away when I realized that – its not because these notable adoptees had a charmed life – it was the struggle – it was the people that came into their lives because of their circumstances that made the difference – that propelled them to greatness. And I look around at the village of people that are in my girls lives that impact them every day . The BIGS, my network of friends, my parents and extended family, teachers, coaches, etc. And I think of all the people we haven’t yet met but will, in the course of their lifetime. People that will also impact them and propel them to their GREATNESS! Again another picture of Beauty from Ashes….
The last few weeks I have slowed down a bit from what has proven to be a busy summer (Stay tuned for a post about all my summer adventures). I needed to rest and gather my thoughts. I was again left struggling with my redefined relationship with my ex. That delicate dance of getting along is tricky and has proven to be hot and cold – really no middle ground. There is no tolerance level at all between the 2 of us – that quality has “left the building” so to speak. When I finally stopped running around and had a chance to collect my thoughts and my feelings on how we have derailed ourselves again, I am surprised what GOD is teaching me through these moments.
I have been beating my self righteous drum for quite a while now – Keeping account of all his wrong doings and keeping that commentary present in dialogues with others. But how does that get me anywhere? Repeating his flaws and faults while failing to mention my own pridefulness wasn’t pleasing to GOD nor was it helping us move into a stable co-parenting relationship. When an interaction with him presented itself I cloaked myself in that same self-righteous armor and went on attack – wanting to be right and WIN the argument, instead of approaching the situation with Humility. Stepping back and re-evaluating what wasn’t working for me and my ex, I took some time to pray. I could stay in that place that kept me frustrated and constantly battling OR I can take a different path. A path of Humility and Humbleness.
What I am learning is that approaching a situation with Humility does not equal defeat. THAT… is powerful my friends!. And look, I thought patience was tough to learn (still learning btw) – Humility is proving to be just as tough but worth it. When my children look at me and the way I have handled this entire situation – I want them to say – My mom handled one of the most difficult times in her life with Grace, Love, Forgiveness and most importantly Humility.
In this day and age Humility is an underrated quality, and I think misunderstood – at least it was by me. Humility is different than forgiveness. I forgive my ex for what he did – and I thought that would be enough. It was enough to free me from the bondage that came from my unforgiveness. But my ex is still present in my life and I must deal with him for many more years to come and so despite forgiving him – I was still stuck, which is where humility steps in. Humility is choosing to Honor GOD rather than arguing about what I deserve or focusing on how angry I am. Its being obedient to GOD and staying true to HIS teachings – ALL OF THEM.
So once again GOD revealed things that I didn’t necessarily think I would hear. Every time… when I focus on trying to fix someone else – GOD steps right in and shines that spotlight right back on me – encouraging me to fix the situation starting with fixing myself and this time with a little piece of humble pie.
Lately I have been focusing my blog posts on myself and my friendships, but this post I wanted to write about my BIGS and their people – the special people in their lives that make them smile. I recently had the opportunity over the summer to spend time with both of the Bigs. Now in their 20’s, they come along with a significant other. And although I blissfully enjoy the moments I spend with them – I am keenly watching. What struck me as I watched how they interact with each other during each of our visits was that these people really love my children. The small gestures, ones that most would miss, I pick up on and celebrate that my longstanding prayers for loving partners for my children were heard.
Christopher has a beautiful girlfriend – inside and out. She is everything I always thought he would choose. Intelligent, creative, witty, down to earth and much more. She loves him with the purest of hearts – even beyond his flaws. She loves his flaws and embraces them. She is kind and thoughtful, going the extra mile to make him feel special. I witnessed her take care of him when he cut himself playing with the little girls and thought that was my role for so long and now as a man he has found someone who loves him as much as I do (that’s hard to do) and I am glad to take a back seat to this.
Lizzy has had a boyfriend for a little over two years now. He is patient, loving, driven, intelligent and so much more. Over time I have seen the little things that to me, speak volumes about how much He loves my little girl. (and I have written about him before in my blog – http://portieadoptionjourney.blogspot.com/2016/10/love-in-text-message.html ) He is thoughtful of her, values her opinion, champions her abilities and is protective of her. He is the balance in her life and is quite funny too. I witnessed probably an every day moment between the 2 of them during our last vacation together where he was asking her if she liked a particular shirt for him and getting her opinion on which one he should buy. That seems like nothing folks but to me the fact that he values her opinion and input means he values her.
And I must add, our family dynamic is not like most. Most adult children do not have elementary age siblings, especially not those that are adopted. And yet these 2 newcomers to our family recognize how important it is for the Bigs to continue to bond with the Littles and they foster that relationship and are ok with the time that it takes to do so. They play silly games and make concessions in our activities to accommodate even the youngest of our group. Another simplistic gesture they extend that probably is done without thought or effort but speaks volumes to this mom about their character.
Its the things I recognize that was missing in my marriage for so many years that I see my children have it “right” with who they have chosen. I have put a lot of knee time in prayer specifically for who will eventually be my children’s spouses. Are these my children’s life partners – that has yet to be seen but I celebrate the 2 that are in their lives right now for who they are and what they bring to the table and how authentically they love the greatest loves of my life.
This cute little sticky note inspired me to write today. To write this blog post symbolically as a letter to my ex-husband. Those words on that sticky so tell my story, my truth. I am so much more now…
For so long you pigeon held me to being half of who I should have been. You limited my potential although I fought against what you said were my limits, the bar you set that I could not or didn’t have the ability to surpass. Without you, I have discovered that sky’s the limit, that I can do anything I set my mind to. I am smart and resourceful and have endless potential to be who it is I dream of being.
You told me that our friends hated me, that who I was led people to not want to be part of our lives. But without you, those same friends have re-emerged and are actively part of my life. I have realized that I am fun, funny, adventurous and people want to be with me. I have even grown my circle of friends exponentially – and these are good people both old and new friends that have morals, standards and live good lives. I look back and see the few friends that didn’t follow me and they are the ones that are plagued with dysfunctional behaviors – liars, cheaters, self absorbed, selfish – you can keep those folks. Without you I have become an amazing friend who cares deeply for her friends, every one, and I put actions behind it. Without you I am now free to be the Friend I always wanted to be to so many people.
You were silent, withholding any compliment or gesture of praise for anything I accomplished or even how I looked. But without you I see the depth of my accomplishments and celebrate everyone of them. I now look at myself and see beauty and can confidently radiate that to the world around me.
You controlled and limited my time outside of my home, stifling my ability to give back to others and my community. Without you I am making an impact – making a difference in peoples lives that will be felt for many years to come….. and it feels good.
Without you I am my true self. A beautiful person who loves her children, friends and family fiercely and completely. A smart and driven woman who’s career has flourished and is able to pay it forward in our community. A fun and spirited friend who now gets to enjoy special times with great people. A humble child of the KING with an amazing testimony of HIS promises.
“Thank you” may not be sufficient considering all that I have gained….
My mom recently brought a box over to my house. My son was doing a project for my dad and needed information on his service in the military. When I opened the box – what I found was so much more. The box was filled with every letter that my dad had written my mom while he was away at war – The Vietnam War. My dad had even made audio recordings of him talking to her and she kept those too. What a treasure! As I held those 50+ year old letters and read the words in some of them, my soul was moved. I was holding the evidence of a real love story! The endearing words on a page written by a fresh faced, scared 19 year old facing the possibility of death every day. But in those circumstances, clung to his new wife and their love to get him through. I told my mom that day to make sure that these letters and audio recordings are preserved, no matter what! She was a little taken aback at my passionate reaction to the letters. Here’s why:
That box.. full of letters will be passed on to our family’s future generations and will serve as a reminder of what love, commitment and marriage really are! That they do span a lifetime, that they are committed in good and bad times – even through wars. That box is my parents love story…. the legacy they leave their children, grandchildren and one day great grandchildren and beyond….
And now, more than ever, I want my children and their future generations to know my parents story and know that it is part of the fabric of our family. I come from a long line of committed marriages, beautiful families. All 5 of my uncles and my aunt that got married are still married or were married to the same person until they passed away. The generation before them – the same. Divorce, for the most part, was not a part of our family’s story – until me. And statistics say that the reality of Divorce in a family will resonate for 7 generations before a cycle is broken. I do not want that reality for my 4 children. I want them to look around at the people in their family history and know that they come from a LONG line of committed marriages, beautiful love stories – each with trials that they all overcame, stuck it out and chose LOVE over anything else. I want my kids to know that when they do chose to marry that the vows they say – mean something and should be honored no matter what comes your way. I want them to write beautiful love stories for my grandchildren and great grandchildren and have their own BOX to pass on……